REVIEW: London Deco, Nobrow

Published:  January 10, 2014
Ari Dyball
REVIEW: London Deco, Nobrow

London Deco
Illustrated by Thibaud Herem
240 x 300mm

This book is beautiful. A classic “leporello” style concertina that unfurls to three meters, a satisfying 300gsm uncoated stock and sparse design that entices a calm space of contemplation from within the pages, the drawings and their detail resonate with what we are informed are 1200 hours of work done with the anachronistically beautiful line of the obsolete Rapidograph pen. If you like deco or drawing or book design you will like this, if you like neither of those things, then you should close this browser window and go kick a football.

The brief text will not enlighten scholars or anyone wanting more than a basic understanding of deco architecture. The enjoyment is purely visual and tactile, a celebration of analog craft and skill. Herem is french, but his focus on London falls into a very British tradition of nostalgia. Deco was a future driven product of industry. William Morris founded the backward looking Arts and Crafts movement as a retaliation to the dehumanisation inherent in the industrial method of production. Herem highlights Eric Gill’s problematic relationship to industrialism as he renders his sculptures beautifully.

In the novel “After London” (1885), the natural world rose up to destroy the modern industrial London – after nature’s vengeance “the earth was poison, the water, the air poison, the very light of heaven, falling through such an atmosphere, poison….” — it seems that Deco, once considered the stylistic face of what Morris and Gill would consider to be industrial poison is now so far away from our own digital poison that it is considered an antidote.

Images: Nobrow

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